NAWG Calls on Congress to Fully Fund Key Farm Loan Programs in FY 2018

Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2017) – Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), along with a broad array of other agriculture organizations, sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders calling on Congress to fully fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Loan programs in FY 2018.

“Farmers of most commodities are experiencing lower than normal prices. Wheat prices, in particular, have been on the decline for the past couple of years, and are expected to remain low in the foreseeable future,” stated NAWG President and Kansas grower David Schemm.

“As part of the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress provided additional funding for FSA’s Farm Loan programs. With prices continuing to remain low, FSA loans will continue to be in high demand to support struggling farm and ranch operations,” continued Schemm.

“NAWG will continue to work with both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to ensure key agriculture programs like FSA’s Farm Loan programs are fully funded and able to function as Congress intended.”

Text of the letter follows
June 14, 2017

Dear Chairmen Cochran and Frelinghuysen, Vice Chairman Leahy, and Ranking Member Lowey:

We thank you for your continued commitment to American agriculture. Your support through the appropriations process has helped our members continue to feed, fuel, and clothe our great nation. As you are well aware, farmers and ranchers have been facing difficult economic conditions for several years. With the farm economy only expected to worsen, access to credit, specifically credit provided through the U .S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Loan programs is critical.

As part of the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 115-31), Congress provided additional funding for FSA’s Farm Loan programs. The increase of roughly $1.4 billion, spread out over both direct and guaranteed farm operating and farm ownership loans, was an important and necessary step in ensuring continued access to credit. The outlook for 2017 grain and livestock prices appears to be no better than in 2016, likely meaning FSA loans will be even more vital to the financial viability of farm and ranch operations. The added funding will help FSA avoid backlog issues faced last year and during the beginning of this year.

Metrics associated with farm health, including debt to asset ratios, working capital, and cash flow, are projected to weaken further in 2017 or stay even from last year. As a result, we expect demand for new or revised loans to at least match 2016, which was a record year for the portfolio. In order to meet demand, FSA will need additional resources for FY-2018. Such resources include adequate lending authority and state mediation grants that reflect the growing stress in the countryside.

We urge you to match this demand with an appropriate level of resources for FY-2018. We recognize that budget restrictions weigh into such calculations. But low commodity prices have reduced net farm income by over 50 percent in the past four years, and FSA loans serve as an important lifeline for many distressed producers. Inadequately funding FSA would be a disservice to our hardworking farmers and ranchers, who are dedicated to feeding our nation and the world.

We appreciate your attention in this matter and stand ready to provide any needed assistance.

Sincerely,

American Bankers Association
Farm Credit Council
Independent Community Bankers of America
National Association of Credit Specialists
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Farmers Union
National Grange
National Milk Producers Federation
National Rural Lenders Association
National Sorghum Producers
National Soybean Association
National Sunflower Association
National Young Farmers Coalition
Southern Peanut Farmers Federation
USA Rice
US Canola Association
US Dry Bean Council

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About NAWG
NAWG is the primary policy representative in Washington D.C. for wheat growers, working to ensure a better future for America’s growers, the industry and the general public. NAWG works with a team of 20 state wheat grower organizations to benefit the wheat industry at the national levels. From their offices in the Wheat Growers Building on Capitol Hill, NAWG’s staff members are in constant contact with state association representatives, NAWG grower leaders, Members of Congress, Congressional staff members, Administration officials and the public.